The South Fork of the American River is the premier rafting river in California and one of the most popular rivers in the United States. Located in the heart of the Sierra Foothills smack in the middle of Gold Rush Country, the South Fork of the American is a great way for families, friends, and nervous first timers to be introduced to the thrills and fun of whitewater rafting in a safe yet exhilarating environment. Enjoy the fun and excitement of rafting with your kids or a group of friends in the outdoors while creating wonderful memories of time spent together on the river. Ideally located, the 21 mile South Fork of the American River offers a Class 3 rafting experience with over 30 exhilarating rapids and a great deal of fun and enjoyment. Whether this will be your first time or you are a whitewater veteran, the South Fork will provide an exciting and thrilling adventure.

What’s the River Like?
The South Fork of the American River is an easy to moderate intensity Class 3 rafting river and is a great way for everyone from ages 6 to 106 to experience the fun of whitewater rafting. Perfect for families and friends, corporate groups, scout groups and school groups to nervous first timers, a South Fork rafting adventure has the ability to bring out huge smiles on of all your faces. Enjoy the relaxation of floating down a river with moments of sheer excitement as you paddle through fun filled rapids. It’s a perfect river to bring together just the right level of excitement.

We offer 5 different rafting experiences on the South Fork of the American River, ranging from a half day to multi day trips covering between 6 to 21 miles. You can also combine any one of our South Fork rafting experiences with a Middle Fork or North Fork rafting trip for a truly exhilarating and unforgettable multi-day rafting adventure.

When to go rafting on the South Fork?
The season for rafting the South Fork of the American River starts at the beginning of April and goes until the end of September. We are able to raft on weekends in October. In April and early May the water runs strong and typically slightly higher than in the summer. Spring rafting on the South Fork of the American River is a fantastic experience for those looking for a slightly more exciting run! Early May through the end of September the dams on the South Fork offer a stable, yet exciting and fun flow of water all summer long.

Where is the South Fork located?
The South Fork of the American River is located in the historic Gold Rush town of Coloma, just a short drive northeast of Sacramento or southwest of Reno/Tahoe and an easy 2 hour drive from the Bay Area depending on traffic.
When you go rafting on the South Fork of the American River with us, you have several trip meeting options.

Option 1: Stay at our deluxe campground in the Historic Gold Rush town of Coloma the night before your trip. Your camping the night before is free! If you are doing a multi-day trip then camping for several nights is included.

Option 2: Meet at our campground the morning of your trip. A great option if you live close by and are just coming for a day of rafting fun on the South Fork.

Want to stay a while?
There is a lot to do and see in Coloma and the surrounding areas, so why not take a few days. Our location and facilities are truly unique. We are the only rafting company with easy river access that has a privately owned resort campground with great facilities like an in ground swimming pool, stocked bass and trout pond, luxury cabins and lush grass covered campsites. Our private campground in Coloma is located in the middle of the James Marshall Gold Discovery State Park. Just a five minute walk and you are in the middle of Gold Rush History! Coloma is in the heart of El Dorado Wine Country and surrounded by beautiful Hiking, Biking and Equestrian Trails.

Check out the South Fork American River virtual tour with a rapid-by-rapid description. The El Dorado County Visitors Authority has an excellent site with lots of information about the South Fork of the American River and the surrounding area. There is also a South Fork American River Access Map for people interested in exploring the South Fork American River. You can also look at current and historic South Fork Flows. Water flows in the South Fork American River result from releases from hydroelectric facilities located upstream. Such water releases are not subject to the control of El Dorado County or commercial rafting companies operating under Permits from the County of El Dorado.

Trip Photography Package Option – Share your Adventure

Photos are taken beginning with the safety talk and continue until the end of your trip. CD’s are available at the completion of your trip. Photos will be shown on the big screen following each trip and during dinner.

Super Deluxe Bus Transportation for Large Groups: Round Trip Available!

For more questions on our South Fork Trips or questions in general, please call us at 800-825-3205 or check out our FAQ page.


#01 Half Day – Chili Bar Trip

If your time is limited but you still want to experience the joy of rafting, then this is the perfect trip for you. Action packed from start to finish and sure to get your adrenalin flowing.

WHERE:Chili Bar to Coloma
LENGTH:6 miles
Class:III
DEPARTS:Morning trips offered daily except No-Water Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
LUNCH:Not included but can be added
CAMPING:Camping the night before your trip is FREE
Minimum Age:6 and older. Youth prices ages 6 to 16
Chili Bar
Run ½ Day
Monday, Tuesday,
Thursday
Friday special Saturday Sunday
Cost Per
Person
Adult Youth Adult Youth Adult Youth Adult Youth
$89 $79 $84 $74 $105 $95 $99 $89

8% Government Land & River Use Fee is added to all trip prices. Be sure to check out the family special, group rates and last minute specials.

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The Chili Bar section of the South Fork American River is a great rafting trip if you have limited time and you want continuous whitewater action. On the Chili Bar rafting trip, the action starts right off the bat and is almost non-stop. You will be rafting down challenging Class III rapids including Meat Grinder, Triple Threat, and Troublemaker as well as lots of smaller ones. Lunch is not included with the trip, but a Camp Lunch can be booked ahead of time. Camp for free the night before or arrive just before your trip.

Spend the afternoon exploring the historic James Marshall Gold Discovery Park. Additional night’s camping and meals are also available. Please call 1-800-825-3205 or email us for details.

Important Trip Details The South Fork Chili Bar rafting trip is offered every day of the week, except Wednesdays, departing from our River Camp in Coloma. Click for Directions.

Our morning rafting trip leaves our River Camp at 9:00 AM so it’s imperative that you arrive by 8:30 AM at the latest. Groups that want a later start time can call us for availability. You can also choose to camp with us the night before. This trip ends below Troublemaker Rapid between 12:00 & 12:30 PM.

Get ready for your South Fork whitewater rafting action! Check out our Equipment List for items you will need for your trip as well as maps and directions to our River Camp.

#02 Day Trip – Lower Gorge Trip
The longest Lower Gorge Run on the South Fork and our most popular one day rafting trip. Spend a relaxing day filled with moments of excitement paddling through fun rapids. Perfect for first timers, families with young children and groups looking for a fun day out.
WHERE:Coloma to Salmon Falls
LENGTH:15 miles
Class:III
DEPARTS:10:00 AM every day except No-Water Tuesday and Wednesdays
Lunch:River Lunch Included
Camping:Camping the night before your trip is FREE
Minimum age:6 years. Youth prices ages 6 to 16
1 Day Gorge Run Monday, Tuesday,
Thursday, Friday
Saturday & Sunday
Cost Per
Person
Adult Youth Adult Youth
$125 $115 $139 $129

8% Government Land & River Use Fee is added to all trip prices. Be sure to check out the family specialgroup rates and last minute specials.

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Camp the night prior to your trip for free or arrive the morning of your trip by 9:30 AM. We’ll meet at our deluxe campground and, following a safety talk, you’ll get on the water and you’ll be on your way for a day of fun on the exciting South Fork American River’s “Lower Gorge Run”. Your trip begins just below Troublemaker Rapid and you’ll raft past James Marshall Gold Discovery State Park, where gold was discovered in 1848!

The first few rapids you’ll encounter on the lower stretch are small but spirited and will allow you to practice your new paddling skills. Then a huge deli-style lunch to match those big, outdoor appetites will be set out for you by the side of the river. After lunch, we’re off to challenge “The Gorge” and experience the excitement of outstanding rapids such as Fowlers Rock, Satan’s Cesspool and Hospital Bar. Just before you hit Folsom Lake our own Honda Jet Ski will meet you for the tow to the take-out at Salmon Falls – this way you avoid a 2 mile paddle out with a headwind. Cold beverages will be provided at the end of your trip, and we will shuttle you back to camp between 4:00 & 5:00 PM depending on river flows.

Additional night’s camping and meals are available. Please call 1-800-825-3205 or email us for details.

Important Trip Details

The South Fork Lower Gorge rafting trip is offered every day of the week, except Wednesdays, departing from our River Camp in Coloma. Click for Directions.

This trip leaves our River Camp at 10:00 AM so it’s imperative that you arrive by 9:30 AM at the latest. We also offer a Lower Gorge Express trip for those that can only start their raft trip in the afternoon.

Get ready for your South Fork rafting adventure! Check out our Equipment List for items you will need for your trip as well as maps and directions to our River Camp.

#03 Lower Gorge Express

Want an afternoon rafting trip that is fun, relaxing and not too short? Our Express rafting trip is by far the longest offered on the South Fork American River. Arrive having had lunch and spend your afternoon relaxing on the river filled with moments of excitement paddling through fun rapids.

WHERE:Coloma to Salmon Falls
LENGTH:15 miles
Class:III
DEPARTS:12:30 PM every day except No-Water Tuesday and Wednesdays
Lunch:Not included
Camping:Not included
Minimum age:6 years. Youth prices ages 6 to 16
Lower Gorge
Express
Monday, Tuesday,
Thursday, Friday
Saturday & Sunday
Cost Per
Person
Adult Youth Adult Youth
$110 $100 $124 $114

8% Government Land & River Use Fee is added to all trip prices. Be sure to check out the family specialgroup rates and last minute specials.

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Arrive at our deluxe River Camp before your trip by 12:00 PM having had lunch. Following a safety talk, you’ll get on the water at our riverside campground and you’ll be on your way for an afternoon of fun on the exciting South Fork Lower Gorge. Your rafting trip begins just below Troublemaker Rapid and you’ll raft past James Marshall Gold Discovery State Park, where gold was discovered in 1848!

The first few rapids you’ll encounter on the lower stretch are small but spirited and will allow you to practice your new paddling skills. After a few relaxed hours on the water, we’re off to challenge “The Gorge” and experience the excitement of outstanding rapids such as Satan’s Cesspool and Hospital Bar. Just before you hit Folsom Lake our own Honda Jet Ski will meet you for the tow to the take-out at Salmon Falls – this way you avoid a 2 mile paddle out with a headwind. Cold beverages at the end of your trip, and a shuttle back to camp between 4:30 & 5:30 PM. Depart at your leisure or add a night of camping for just $10 per person.

Important Trip Details

The South Fork Lower Gorge Express trip is offered every day of the week, except Wednesdays, departing from our River Camp in Coloma. Click for Directions.

This rafting trip departs at 12:30 PM and you must arrive at our camp by 12:00 PM at the latest. Please have lunch before you arrive at our Camp to start the trip. Due to the water being controlled by the dam upstream, it’s important to get on the river before the dam is closed.
Camping and Meals are available after your trip. Please call 1-800-825-3205 or email us for details.

Please check our Equipment List for your South Fork rafting trip. Please uses these Maps and directions to our River Camp. We look forward to seeing you and get ready for an afternoon of rafting on the South Fork of the American River.

#04 Day Trip – South Fork Whole River

Are you looking for a super full day of whitewater rafting on a river that’s just packed with fun, excitement, and thrills? Then this is the trip for you! You’ll raft the entire 21 mile length of the South Fork Chili Bar and the Lower Gorge Sections in a wet and wild one day trip.

WHERE:Chili Bar to Salmon Falls
LENGTH:21 miles
Class:III
DEPARTS:9:00 AM every day except No-Water Tuesday and Wednesdays
Lunch:River lunch included
Camping:Camping the night before your trip is FREE
Minimum age:6 years. Youth prices ages 6 to 16
Whole River Monday, Tuesday,
Thursday, Friday
Saturday & Sunday
Cost Per
Person
Adult Youth Adult Youth
$145 $135 $155 $145

8% Government Land & River Use Fee is added to all trip prices. Be sure to check out the family specialgroup rates and last minute specials.

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Camp the night prior to your South Fork rafting trip for free at our deluxe campground or arrive the morning of your trip by 8:30 AM. Our shuttle will drive you to the top of the South Fork at the Chili Bar put-in. After a last minute restrooms break, get geared up and after a detailed safety talk, you’re off on the water. The fun starts right off the bat. Paddle your way through rapids such as Meat Grinder, Triple Threat, and the famous Troublemaker. Halfway down you’ll take a break for a yummy and hearty lunch served riverside. Then you’ll head downstream to the Gorge, a canyon filled with rapids such as Fowlers Rock, Satan’s Cesspool, Bouncing Rock, and Hospital Bar. After the last rapid our Honda Jet Ski will tow the rafts across Folsom Lake to the take-out at Salmon Falls. Ice-cold beverages will be provided and our shuttle will take you back to the deluxe campground between 4:30 and 5:30 PM.

Important Trip Details

The South Fork Whole River rafting trip is offered every day of the week, except Wednesdays, departing from our River Camp in Coloma. Click for Directions.

This South Fork rafting trip leaves our River Camp at 9:00 AM so it’s imperative that you arrive by 8:30 AM at the latest. You can also choose to camp with us for Free the night before. Additional nights camping and meals are available before or after your trip. Please call 1-800-825-3205 or email us for details.

Get ready for a fun filled day rafting the South Fork of the American River! Check out our Equipment List for items you will need for your rafting trip as well as maps and directions to our River Camp.

#05 Two Day South Fork – Lower Gorge + Chili Bar

Join us for two days of fun, sun, and whitewater on the South Fork of the American River, one of the most popular whitewater rafting trips in the world! A perfect way to relax, unwind and enjoy time with family and friends.

WHERE:Day 1 – Coloma to Folsom Lake
Day 2 – Chili Bar to Coloma
LENGTH:21 miles
Class:III
DEPARTS:10:00 AM every day except Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays
Meals:5 meals included
Camping:2 nights camping FREE
Minimum age:6 years. Youth prices ages 6 to 16
South Fork
2 Days
Monday & Tuesday
Thursday & Friday
Friday & Saturday
Sunday & Monday
Saturday & Sunday
Cost Per
Person
Adult Youth Adult Youth Adult Youth
$269 $249 $289 $269 $299 $279

8% Government Land & River Use Fee is added to all trip prices. Be sure to check out the family specialgroup rates and last minute specials.

Click Here for Details and ItineraryClick Here to Hide Details and Itinerary

Arrive the day before your two day rafting trip at our deluxe campground, complete with indoor restrooms and free hot showers, swimming pool, volleyball court, and more, situated just above Troublemaker Rapid on the South Fork. Your two day South Fork American River rafting adventure begins the morning of your rafting trip with a hearty breakfast then, after an informative safety talk, you’re off to the river for a day of fun, laughter, excitement, and lots of exhilarating whitewater.

The first few rapids you’ll encounter on the lower stretch are small but spirited and will allow you to practice your new paddling skills. Then a huge deli-style lunch to match those big, outdoor appetites will be set out for you by the side of the river. After lunch, we’re off to challenge “The Gorge” and experience the excitement of outstanding rapids such as Satan’s Cesspool and Hospital Bar. Just before you hit Folsom Lake our own Honda Jet Ski will meet you for the tow to the take-out at Salmon Falls – this way you avoid a 2 mile paddle out with a headwind.

At the end of the day’s rafting, cold beverages and transportation back to camp await you. At camp you can enjoy some tasty hors d’oeuvres, a hot shower or free time until we serve a delicious, healthy dinner with dessert that will satisfy the heartiest appetite.

On the second day of your South Fork rafting adventure following another delicious breakfast, the thrills start swiftly on the upper stretch with more outstanding whitewater including rapids such as Meat Grinder, Triple Threat and Troublemaker. A tasty lunch back at camp completes your unforgettable two day South Fork rafting trip. You’ll leave with memories of the beautiful scenery, feeling fully relaxed and invigorated, quality time spent with family and friends wanting to come back again.

Important Trip Details

This Two Day South Fork rafting adventure is offered on Monday/Tuesday, Thursday/Friday, Friday/Saturday, Saturday/Sunday, and Sunday/Monday. Departing from our River Camp in Coloma. Click for Directions.

This rafting trip leaves our River Camp at 10:00 AM so if you are not camping with us the night before then it’s imperative that you arrive by 9:30 AM at the latest.

Get ready for some South Fork rafting action! Check out our Equipment List for items you will need for your river trip as well as maps and directions to our River Camp.